Open Water & Pool Coaching Videos

Transient Global Amnesia

Cold water immersion, among other causes, can lead to transient global amnesia which is a temporary episode of memory loss.

Your ability to recall vanishes so you may not know where you are, how you got there or even what is happening in the here and now, so you may be repetitive for example repeating ‘what am I doing here?’  It can be a very frightening experience but often improves over some hours.

What to look out for:

A sudden onset of memory loss, witnessed by others

Retention of personal identity despite memory loss

Normal cognition, so able to recognise familiar objects and follow directions

Absence of signs indicating damage to an area of the brain such as paralysis, involuntary movements or impaired word recognition

It would be normal to identify a duration of no longer than 24 hours and often shorter, a gradual return of memory, no recent head injury, no evidence of seizures during the periods of amnesia, no history of epilepsy

How can you help?

Seek immediate medical attention for anyone that goes quickly from normal awareness to confused, you may need to call the ambulance for them if they are too confused

Acute changes in awareness could be the cause of more serious life threatening illness

Stay with the person and ensure they are warm and dry

Offer reassurance until help arrives


Open water swimming is fun, exhilarating, has great health benefits. It  has gained huge interest particularly over the past year with the lockdown of swimming pools.  Always remember that water deserves respect, it can bring great joy but also great sadness.

Know the risks whether those mentioned above or the wider risks.  Don’t go alone and think through the following:

Who are you swimming with, what are their abilities, do you known them – what would you do if they had a medical emergency, do they have in case of emergency information, do you even know their name!

Check out the weather conditions, don’t go if its not safe, if you get to the venue and you feel its unsafe don’t go in just because others are.

Think about the water quality, has rain run off contaminated the waters for example.

Know a bit about where you are, the tides, currents, under currents,hazards under the waterline or if there are any weirs, sealife and what route are you taking.

Think about your entry and exit points and have a contingency plan in case of emergency enroute how would you exit the water safely, how would alert others.

Get kitted out, a wetsuit will protect you from the cold water but can change your stroke so you may need to adjust your stroke so watch out for injury . Don’t forget goggles and lubricant to prevent rub.  A towfloat is good to be visible and it can be useful to attach a whistle.

How will you alert emergency services if required. Have a phone,  ‘what three words’ to pinpoint location

 What is the water temperature, get in as above – slowly with caution, acclimatise slowly, get out before you get too cold and reheat slowly.

What will you eat before and after your swim.

 Never swim and drink alcohol.

How are you getting home, make sure you are safe to drive

Photo by Peter Secan

Cold water swimming/wild swimming, whatever you want to call it, is an absolute joy and has a growing following and circles of community across the country. It is lovely to see the community grow with those eager to dip, to those wanting to stretch themselves with more vigorous challenges. It is however tempered with risks that we must acknowledge or ignore at our peril!

IF in doubt stay OUT!

If you're IN do your research, swim in a group, be cautious, look after each other and have fun!

Photo by Humphrey Muleba

©Solent Swim School 2022